|Weekend 20th - 23rd November 2003
There was a new number one in town over the weekend as Jack Black lead his new comedy School of Rock on to defeat
the quickly fading Revolutions. The film - which follows Dewey and his exploits as a substitute teacher at a
well-off prep school, where he forms a band made up of students from his music class with the hopes that his new band will
win the prize money up for grabs in a local band competition - collected $2.09 million through the weekend. Rocking on
197 screens, the UIP distributed film averaged a fine $10,631 per concert. Including last weekends healthy previews,
School of Rock has seen its total grow to $2.51 million.
For Black, the opening of School of Rock comes in slightly behind the $2.24 million launch of Shallow Hal,
or 6.8%. The Gwyneth Palrow co-starrer went on to secure a fine $9.33 million in Australia, a very optimistic target for
School of Rock. Like School of Rock, Shallow Hal had some previews, launching on New Years day,
a Tuesday, where it amassed an additional $1.1 million in two days. At the close of the first weekend, counting previews,
School of Rock stands 24.4% behind. Shallow Hal had two good holds and two average holds in the important
subsequent four weeks, and for School of Rock, the biggest obstacle for a long life is how much of a distraction
Elf will prove to be in the comedy market.
Compared to the U.S. launch, School of Rock comes in a close 6.7% better* in Australia. School of Rock
opened well in the in the U.S. back early October, nabbing the top position from the Denzel Washington flick Out of
Time and securing bragging rights, which for Paramount has been a very rare thing in 2003. The Richard Linklater
directed film saw some good holding power through what was a busy October, so that bodes well for the film in Australia
as competition grows in the coming weeks. Back in 2002, Shallow Hal opened right in par, or just 0.1% weaker* than
the U.S. launch, but went on to finish a very healthy 31.7% better, another positive sign for Black and his Rock.
Compared to my weekend forecast, School of Rock opened a few notches higher than my $1.7 million prediction for its
number one placing.
Lucky to fall only one position through its third frame was the sci-fi saga closer The Matrix Revolutions. The
Wachowski brother's written, directed and produced film was off a better 45% for the frame as it went on to collect $1.51
million. Raising its total to $14.83 million, The Matrix Revolutions saw its average fall to $3,458, down 15 screens
from last weekend. Revolutions is currently placing as number 11 in this years releases and number 106 on the all
Compared to the previous films, The Matrix Revolutions is tracking a hard 41.2% behind where Reloaded was
after three weeks, or $10.4 million behind. The third weekend itself was a distant 53.2% behind what the middle chapter
earned in its third. Revolutions is now only 13.4% ahead of where The Matrix was after three weeks, down
significantly from its 34.6% lead last weekend and its 89% better opening. The third weekend of Revolutions was 46.6%
down on the original's third weekend. Compared to Rise of The Machines, Revolutions is now tracking 1% behind
the Schwarzenegger sequel, a swap from standing 1% ahead last weekend. The slight reversal is due to the final chapter
of the adventures and Neo and his pals coming in 15% weaker than the third lap of Arnie and his robotic buddies when they
were down 42%. Revolutions still looks like finishing a little under the $18.9 million of T3.
Compared to the U.S. pace, Revolutions is now tracking 19% ahead*, again an improvement on the 9% lead* from last
weekend. The third weekend in the U.S. was down by a harder and expected 57% for a third weekend frame that was 116%
better* in Australia. Each Matrix film has gone on to earn a good deal more* in Australia than in the U.S., and
at this stage Revolutions may even pass the 34.2% better* final margin that The Matrix earned back in 1999.
Like last weekend there were three new film to enter the top five, the second best of them this weekend was the horror
remake The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Landing in third position, the Jessica Beil and Lee Ermy starring feature
that follows the trials of a group of teens caught up in the nightmare of a cannibalistic family and their chainsaw
wielding butcher in rural Texas debuted with a soft $1.09 million. Launching on a medium wide 175 screens, Massacre
chopped its way to an ok $6,243 per theatre. The opening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre comes in 17.1% behind that
of the recent Freddy Vs. Jason.
Despite what was a successful run in the U.S. on the back of some generally but selectively non-critical reviews, The
Texas Chainsaw Massacre has yet again failed where so many other horror films have in Australia. Sure it's opening
is over $1 million, which equates to a fair slice of people seeing the film, but there's no hiding its far down
comparatively* speaking on what it did in the U.S. Such was the way with Freddy Vs. Jason from just five weeks ago.
The two New Line films, one a remake and one a joining of two franchises surprised everyone upon opening and collected
sizable final totals. Seeing commercial promise and distributing both, Roadshow would have hoped to have seen that success
replicated. So what's going wrong and why is it so consistent? Are local marketers just not putting enough cash behind
these pictures for the fear of their failure? With a tame M rating, it can't be mum's fault for stopping little Jimmy and
Janie from going to see it. Perhaps its just a reflection of our society where we don't want to be scared or frightened.
That's my brother point of view, but I just don't understand it.
Compared to the U.S. pace, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's opening comes in a distant 61.1% behind* what it earned
through its pre-Halloween October launch. To the un-initiated, and that's most of the general audience, the name
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre implies cheap 1970's bottom of the barrel gore and splatter, so there's a lot of stigma
to overcome if people are ever going to see a film with that name. Perhaps that's where the marketers failed, but its a
perception that's difficult to overcome. Does it then mean that there's more trailer-trash, wife-slapping, pot-smoking,
low-brow-entertainment-seeking, horror-movie-watching fans in the U.S. or just less socially defunct people in Australia?
Whatever the cause, it meant that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre opened half a million less than my $1.5 million
opening weekend prediction, or one third of Collingwood didn't get up off the couch to go and see the film this weekend.
Also opening was the mystical Mystic River. Cementing fourth place, the Clint Eastwood thriller - that follows three
estranged childhood friends, Jimmy, Sean and Dave, who are re-united due to the death of Jimmy's daughter, although they
each have differing motivations in sticking around in the hunt to find the killer - opened with an ok $0.67 million.
Co-starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne and Laura Linney, Mystic River opened an a very
slim 83 screens, allowing for a very good average of $8,100, the second best in the top ten.
Although they have held hands for weeks in the U.S. with a very similar performance, Mystic River's debut was 25%
lower than what Runaway Jury opened with four weeks ago. Mystic River's launch was more akin to the $0.64
million of Nicholas Cage's Matchstick Men which went on to collect a soft $2.3 million. The opening however is a
lot better than the $162K opening of Eastwood's last directorial piece, 2002's Blood Work.
Compared to the U.S. launch, Mystic River's Australian opening comes in 35% weaker* than what it earned through its
first wide weekend in the U.S. However, with its Australian previews counted in and the first official, but limited weekend
in the U.S., actually stands 44% behind*. It is unlikely that Mystic River will improve much on that ratio, as both
Matchstick Men and Runaway Jury, despite the latter's good U.S. performance, sunk quickly in Australia.
Compared to my opening weekend forecast, Mystic River's opening was very close to my $0.6 million prediction.
Despite a rather subdued opening last weekend the race horse themed drama Seabiscuit managed to do some respectable
numbers through its second weekend. The Toby Maguire starring pic about the little race horse that could was off only 20%,
allowing the film to gallop on to a $1.94 million running cume. Although the numbers aren't stand out, its a slight
turnaround for the film that has been struggling almost everywhere outside of the U.S.
It's highly unlikely that Seabiscuit will go on to match the performance of this January's The Quiet
American, but through week two they are showing some similarities. Opening only 4.5% weaker last weekend, and with
previews for both films counted finishing 17.5% ahead, Seabiscuit's only give away at a weaker performance was its
average of $3,249 compared to American's hot $12,883. The Brendan Fraser flick dipped only 9% in its second, not
counting the Australia Day long weekend addition. Currently Seabiscuit is tracking 9.1% behind, and despite its
big heart will be unable to match what were consistent declines in the 20% range for The Quiet American. Although
Seabiscuit could surprise again, a final total along the lines of the $3.3 million or so Runaway Jury will
end up with is a more likely measure.
Compared to the U.S. pace, Seabiscuit's Australian cume is tracking a distant 60.4% behind* what it had through its
second in the U.S. Off only 15.4% in the U.S. in its second, Seabiscuit's great word of mouth is reflected only in
this weeks small decline, if not the amount. The current two week Australian cume* is still tracking behind what the film
earned through its first three days in the U.S.
The top 20 films collected $8.72 million over the weekend, up 22.3% from last weekend and up 21.3% from this weekend last
year when the crop was again led by My Big Fat Greek Wedding in its fifth weekend with $1.59 million, off 23%, while
The Ring conjured up a further $1.21 million in its second, off a slight 12%. The only other newcomer was the soft
$0.93 dip by Changing Lanes.
Weekend Coming 27th - 30th November 2003
Two new films have the potential to do damage to the charts this weekend, and having proven itself through two weeks of
previews and a hot U.S. run to date is the Will Ferrell comedy Elf. Co-starring James Cann and Bob Newhart, the
film was helmed by actor come directed Jon Favreau and follows the story of Buddy. On one Christmas while Santa is snacking
on some biscuits, a baby crawls into Santa's sack only to be discovered on his return to the North Pole. With papa Elf
never having had the chance to raise a child, he volunteers the assignment and raises Buddy as an Elf in Santa's workshop.
Elf opened just three weeks ago in the U.S. in the runner up spot, although still netted a commanding $US31.1
million. Produced for a relatively minor $US33 million, New Line has their first legitimate hit on their hands for 2003,
with Elf having raked in $US94.7 million in its short life. Although Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Freddy
Vs. Jason were good for the studio, Elf dipped by just 15% and then 29%, to give it some of the best holding
power of any film this year and seat Elf as a major player, sure to finish in the top ten for the year. The success
of Elf marks Ferrell's first headlining success after his successful co-starring role in this year's Old
School, another surprise success which opened with $US17.4 million on its way to $US74.6 million.
For the last two weekends Elf has been testing the waters in Australia. Last weekend Elf gathered $207K from
its 163 locations and this weekend past earned another $347K for a running cume of $0.5 million heading into its first
official weekend. With a very tame G rating, the Roadshow film will be the first family friendly film in the market since
Nemo, getting a good start on the next Looney Tunes dud opening in two weeks. Elf however has a much
broader draw than just families, as young adults and teens will be a core audience for the film to help generate decent
opening figures through this partial school free period. Last May Old School collected $0.78 million through its
opening frame, and while the film didn't do that great here, Ferrell's stint was hard to miss.
But will Elf be able to avoid the same traps that saw The Grinch falter in Australia? The Jim Carrey flick
was a monster in the states, and even though it had the Jim Carrey name, it was not enough to convince us. Elf
features a similar zany, far-out Christmas theme as did The Grinch. The major contributor many cited as the reason
for its poor performance was that the Dr. Seuss stories weren't as popular here as in the states. The good news for
Elf is that beforehand it wasn't known anywhere and it has succeeded on its own merits so far. Elf has been
marketed as film that actually may be quite funny, and selling the film on what it has to offer won't be cheating the
audience. Elf should be able to break into the Australian market this weekend a take home $2.2 million with it.
Also opening is the Colin Farrell and Samuel L Jackson starring action flick S.W.A.T.. Directed by TV series veteran
Clark Johnson and co-starring Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J and Olivier Martinez the film follows a group of the Special
Weapons and Tactics team who has the job of transporting a drug tycoon into Federal custody. The job gets complicated
after the drug lord offers a reward of $US100 million to anyone who can break him out of their custody. The film was one
of Sony's bigger ticket films for the year, and although the film carried a high price tag, its success was somewhat of an
offset for the disappointment of Full Throttle. Despite the large cast, there's little to distinguish the film from
any other given action oriented film of the last ten years and has a very similar feel to Sony's own Bad Boys II.
The film opened in the U.S. back in August to the tune of $US37.0 million. The $US80 million film saw some average holding
power, going on to earn a solid $US116.8 million. While the opening was impressive, in a year filled with mega openings
it counts as only the 16th best so far, while in terms of total gross its number 14. The film counts as the most successful
effort for Farrell from his 4 films this year, Daredevil, The Recruit and Phone Booth each collected
$US102.5, $US52.8 and $US46.6 million, although it trails the $US132 million of last year's Minority Report. Not
counting co-starring efforts, S.W.A.T. is also the best for Jackson in a headlining role, easily passing the $US26.6
million of this year's Basic, the $US66.8 million of last year's Changing Lanes and others going back further
than Shaft and Unbreakable.
S.W.A.T. saw its trailers begin appearing in theatres months ago, and with such a diverse cast there's a lot here
to appeal to a general audience. Bad Boys II packed a lot of similar themes that S.W.A.T. hopes will be a
draw, such as overboard action and whole lot of mucho angst. That drove both of the films to hot openings and respectable
finishes in the U.S. The Will Smith and Martin Lawrence sequel did well in Australia even if it was down* on the U.S.
performance. Opening with $3.05 million in second place against strong sessions by crowd favorites Finding Nemo
and Pirates, the Boys went on to collect $10.5 million for Colombia Tristar, also the distributor of
S.W.A.T.. As in the U.S., S.W.A.T. should be able to beat out Farrell's other 2003 efforts with the exception
of Daredevil's $3.23 million, and while it may not be able to beat out Elf they will make a solid one-two
team. S.W.A.T. should open with close to $2 million this weekend.
* Based on a US index of 10/1 with currency, ticket prices, population and cinema visits per head.
^ Based on a UK index of 2.1/1 with currency, ticket prices, population and cinema visits per head.